Monday, December 17, 2012

Travel Bucket List

My parents have raised me with the belief that setting goals is the best way to measure personal growth. So I've developed multiple lists over time of places I want to go and events I dream of witnessing. Here are my current 10 tens!

Places I Will Go
1. Greece
2. Croatia
3. Cambodia
4. Peru
5. New Zealand
6. Australia
7. Japan
8. China
9. Egypt
10. Morocco

Events To Experience
1. The Floating Lantern Festival in Taiwan
2. Carnival in Venice
3. Taste of Chicago
4. Burning Man in Nevada
5. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
6. La Tomatina, Spain
7.  New York Film Festival
8. Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Scotland
9. Sandfest, Port Aransas, Texas
10. Obon Fesitval, Japan
I'd also like to go to the Olympics, but not in Brazil so I have to wait another 8 years!

So... where would you like to go?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Gifts to Inspire Travel

We all have those friends who needs a little... push to help them embrace their inner-vagabond. If you're searching for a great gift to inspire them to get out and go, here are some fun ones.

Regional Wine Samplers: I'm actually doing this for two friends this Christmas. They are just a wonderful gift and if you're willing to splurge you can also add a gift membership on for your friend. There are two options for memberships and both have some pretty sweet perks.

Scratch Off Map: A friend bought this as a graduation gift for me. I find myself constantly want to go somewhere new when I look at my progress so far. It also helps you pinpoint those areas of the globe which you've completely ignored!

Gift Basket: This is my favorite shop! I can spend hours getting lost in here and usually walk out with over $100 in products afterwards. During the Holiday Seasons you can design gift baskets which can feature a single location or a whole region of the world!

An Experience: This one is more for if you know your friend is going somewhere. Make them reservations at a restaurant they've never tried or book an excursion they might think about, but never follow through with! I've done with not only at Christmas, but weddings too. If you know the Couple are going to Fiji, then look into fun outings for their trip!

A Book or Film: Inspire your friends through the gift of Words, both written and spoken.

So go and inspire someone this Holiday Season. We need more Vagabonds in the world!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rental Cars

I've rented cars in both Europe and Central America. Neither has been an enjoyable process, but to get the most experiences out of certain locations you sometimes can't void the pains. OR if you're traveling in a larger party, it is sometimes more economical to rent a car. Just beware, there are so many hidden fees with car rental. Budget Travel posted a great article about it, but those are just a few. Here are the ones that I had to learn the hard way!
Filling the Tank: In the U.S. we sure complain about the price of fuel, but let me assure you that we are better off than our European counterparts! On my Euro-Road Trip this past summer we spent more that 800EUROS in gas. It was unexpected and in the end, we wished we would have saved the money and each bought a rail-pass instead.
G.S.P Fee: This is the same everywhere, but in the U.S. I would never have thought of NEEDING a GSP. I'm pretty handy with a map, so I'm usually replying on those skills. However, in countries where I can't read the road signage as well, I have splurged on a G.P.S.- splurged being the operative word!
Like I previously stated, sometimes the need for a car is unavoidable, but here are some interesting alternatives. No matter where you travel, local or abroad beware of the hidden fees of the rental car!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Traveling Alone

Solo journeys are something I true love. I embrace the excitement in knowing that this trip might change me and only me in some profound way. As a solo traveler I am more likely to stray from a path and just follow where my wondering heart leads... often I get lost, but the places I find are well worth the taxi ride back.
However, as a solo traveler I am reckless. I rarely think about my safety, which would make my family shiver. A 26yr old woman in a foreign place alone is a very easy target. Budget Travel post this article recently and I couldn't agree more. So what can we do to stay safe when traveling alone?
Dress: Be appropriate. What you are wearing says a lot to the public and in certain countries can seem as an invitation. Modesty is always the best policy.
Communication: I try to let my friends and family know points of contact on any trip I am taking. It usually includes my itinerary, housing information, and a schedule of times they should expect an email from me. I also have photocopies of all of my travel documents (passports, visas, birth certificate) with my next of kin.
Day Travel: Do most of your sightseeing during the day. If you want to visit something at night, be cautious. Stay in well-lit areas with lots of people.

Most importantly, use common sense. This is your safety! After all, we don't want this trip to be your last.

Not the work of an artist

I've never taken a photography course or followed a blog about it, but throughout my travels I have been fairly lucky with my pictures. I'm not sure what makes a great photo. I think it's something to do with lighting and composition, but for me, it's usually luck. Here are my favorite pieces of art down by my own hand. Share some of yours as well!
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica- I like the contrast of Shadow and Sunset.

Prague, Czech Republic- These are just parking barricades, but they lined up nicely.

Kassel, Germany- Looks like something from Lord of the Rings to me.

Rhine River, Germany- Perfect visual summery of late autumn in Germany.

Washington D.C., Human Art

Amsterdam, Holland- This was the set up of some little tourist shop and it turned out so great! Definitely my favorite!

Gothenburg, Sweden- The Grass on either side makes this photo really pop!

So are there any photos you've taken that have made you stop and think "Wow! Did this come from my camera?!" Share them with us!

MIA, my bad!

Sorry I've been absent from the blog in the past two weeks. I have been moving apartments and going through the processes of an internal transfer with one of the largest companies in the world. It's all very excited and equally confusing, but for the most part my life is settling down a bit.
Something that I've observed during this move is that I am a terrible packer when it comes to moving! I can pack for a trip or vacation, but packing up my entire life is something that I have NO skill at. As I begin to sift through boxes and choosing new place for my treasures I find myself thinking "Why is this packed with this?! That makes no sense." Just goes to show how finite my skill set is!
Other announcements: My trip to Italy is on fast approach and I am excited to announce that the 2nd destination for this trip is going to be Budapest! There will be a blog highlighting this city in the near future. Also, my best friend has moved to Birmingham, so be prepared for a blog about that city after my next 3 Day weekend.
Lots happening people, isn't it so exciting!

Monday, November 26, 2012

6 Tips for traveling with children

Encourage Their Inner Explorer. Safety may always come first, but you're not traveling far and wide just to put the kibosh on adventure.'s O'Rourke Hayes recommends, "While invoking proper safety measures, encourage your young travelers to engage his or her natural curiosity, push their own boundaries, and take increasing responsibility. This is the best way for you and your child to maximize learning along the way." And learning is exactly what family travel is all about—for parent and child.

Pack Smart. Be choosy about what comes along, and remember that sometimes the simplest thing is the biggest lifesaver; Dubrow always brings blue painter's tape to use for everything from making a track for toy cars to baby-proofing. Another one of her favorite items is a CARES harness (she owns two), which weighs just 1 pound and lets you buckle a young child into an airplane seat without bringing along a bulky car seat. 

Under-plan. Let "under-plan" be your family's one-word travel mantra. Candyce H. Stapen, a family-travel author and producer of the FamilyiTrips series of mobile apps, says to forget about doing it all: "It's not how much of a destination you see, but how much you and your kids enjoy the sites together. That special museum won't engage your grade-schooler if it's the fourth facility toured that day. Allow time for the serendipitous."
Mom-of-three Debbie Dubrow of adds, "Sometimes it can be difficult to just let things unfold naturally, but the time you spend in local playgrounds or at the market picking up a snack often helps connect you more deeply to the place you are visiting."

Get them involved. From planning to packing, your kids' participation is key, says Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, editor of and family travel columnist with the Dallas Morning News. The mom of three sons recommends encouraging children to help research family-friendly activities, giving them a map so they get a sense of where they're going, and creating a list from which they can pack their own clothes and carry-on. "The more the kids are involved," she says, "the deeper the memory."

Nothing passes time like a nap. There was recently an article on Budget Travel about tricks to help kids fall asleep.

Check in with your child's teacher. One great part about traveling during the school year with young children is that a week of missed preschool or kindergarten isn't going to derail their academic careers. Still, communicate to the child what your plans are, and find out if your child might do a special show-and-tell presentation with a favorite souvenir when she returns.

If you're looking for more tips from experienced parents, check out this Blog.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dear Grandma

This post is about the importance of a proper postcard. Something every traveler needs to know!

I've never been much good with family communication. I've skipped a lot of family events over the years. It's not that I don't love them or that I'm not welcome, there's just always been reasons. It seemed like it was only going to get worse when I told my family I was dropping out of College and moving to Europe... Yeah, that's a big ol' bomb! Especially for my Grandmother. All of her other 8 grand children have college degrees, as do their spouses. Why did I have to be such a wild child? I was breaking her heart, she thought me a quitter and didn't understand my urge to roam at all.
I vowed to make her see that I was still getting an education! She was always a fan of a well written letter, usually LONG ones. I'm not much good for more than a paragraph or two, so I settled for Postcards. Killing two birds with one stone as it were. She would read about my adventures and learnings, while experiencing the same beauty I was witnessing first hand. I sent her one from each city I visited. I think in that 8months they totaled 10 or so. And they contained my whole heart.

So what goes into a great Post Card? It's simple, really.

1. Greet your audience. Make it familiar, something you would actually say. "Yo Bro!" or "Hey Lady" It doesn't need to contain their name since that will be in the address area.
2. Wish them well and that they were here with you! It leads right into the next part.
3. Explain the greatest thing you saw that day and how it made you think of them in some way. Let's face it, as much as they want to hear about what you're doing on your journey, they're still human! They wanna hear about themselves!
4. What's next? Are you catching a train or looking forward to a tour. Let them know there's more going on then could possibly be summed up here. They'll be looking for that next card!
5. Closing. Goodbyes and laters are the traditional ending. I, personally, use "Until next time!" it's just something that's stuck with me.
There you have it! Simple, but effective postcards. They mean more than you know to your friends and family.
Grandma has been gone 3 years now. I don't know if she ever forgave me for quitting college? I did go back, so that soothed her some what. After she passed, we cleared out her house and my aunt found all my postcards in a bundle along with letters from my Grandpa from WWII... I still write one for her on every trip, it's just that now I don't have to pay the postage.

pARTing keepsakes

Like most travelers, when you visit a new and exciting place you want to take a piece of it home with you. Jade statues from China, a pair of wooden shoes from the Netherlands, mini Eiffel towers sold in Paris... NICKNACKS! Or as my mom calls them: Clutter. Over time and many new apartments and cities, I have come to hate my junk. It looses it's meaning and just becomes one more thing to dust. I mean, I seriously own a hammock from Brazil when I spent my entire 3.5week trip sleeping in one... I haven't had a YARD in 4 years, why did I buy a hammock?!?!?! Oh the mistakes I've made.
Finally, I have discovered a new approach. After establishing that I want something different, even one of a kind that really speaks from the heart of a destination, I was offered this advice: buy the something that grows with you. Buy Art. Over time, you'll learn more about your style and taste.
In 2008 I went to Prague and on the Charles Bridge the street vendors fill the sides of the path with their paintings, drawings, and photography. The choices were overwhelming and every piece was beautiful. Finally, I found two that spoke to me. 5"X7" Water colors of the bridge. They were perfect and easy to carry around for the remainder of the trip. Upon returning home, I had them frame and they have decorated my various apartments ever since!

Art! The perfect keepsake. It varies from affordable to priceless. It's easy to transport... for the most part. Oil paintings are the exception, the canvas can't easily be rolled and they are sensitive to temperature. The best part, is that every place you travel becomes a part of your home as much as its be become a part of you!

Happy Travels!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

5 Black Friday Deals that a Vagabond can't pass up!

As the turkey settles and the football lulls the men of my family to sleep, it is then that the ladies of my family seem to magically produce mountains of ads for the all-day shop-a-thon that will be taking place tomorrow. Now I'm not much of a shopper and I hate crowds almost as much as the Eiffel Tower... man, I hate that tower! Who decided that the stupid thing was to become the symbol of travel and culture?! Not me!...
Ok, hatred aside, there are still a few great deals that send me out into the madness. Deals that a true traveler just can't pass up! Have a look

1. Polaroid 8-in Tablet, Kohl's- Price: $119, $89.99 after mail-in rebate.
         This beautiful piece on machinery is all you'll need on a long, 2 month backpacking trip. Forget that big laptop with it's huge charger. Runs off the same charger as most androids and blackberries. I, personal, don't use MAC products so this is a good as any iPad.

2. Bushnell Bear Grylls Edition Back Track D-Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device, Amazon- Price: $116.37, $91.37 after rebate.
          This device is the coolest hiking tool I've ever seen! It can:
  • Stores and locates up to 10 locations and logs up to 48 hours of trip data
  • Tracks Time, Temperature (Fahrenheit or Celsius), Altitude, Distance, Latitude and Longitude coordinates
  • Breadcrumbs Feature - records your exact route and creates a map based on the path you took
  • Upload to social media, email, or save to your computer, runs on Windows (XP SP1 or later) and MAC (10.4.9 or later)
3.  Buy 2, Get 2 Free- All Paperback Books, Hastings.
           Get 4 new travel guides for some unbeatable deals!!!
4. 3 Piece Spinner Luggage Sets, Assorted colors, Gordmans- Price: $39.99, save $180!
           I have always bought my luggage from here. They have an amazing selection and it wears nicely. Plus the size and wheel style are perfect for a traveler. When my best friend celebrated his 27th birthday I got him a piece. They make great gifts for your thrill seeking friends too. Maybe your wanting to surprise your significant other with the trip of their dreams? What better way then a travel guide in the front pouch of one of these?!
           *Ladies, also note that Gordmans has a great deal on flats. They carry RocketDog brand shoes and it is one of the most comfortable travel shoes you will come across!

5. Beats By Dr. Dre Solo HD On-Ear Headphones w/ControlTalk (Assorted Colors), Walmart- Price: $180.
           The perfect set the headphones are very important to today's traveler. Some times it feels as though I'm the only person in the world who doesn't own a set of these yet. They're very internationally known.


Happy Thanksgiving to my Internet Community!

Per usual on a National Holiday, I am far away from home, experiencing new people and places. So it is with my family in mind that I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for all the places I have seen, for the people I have met, and for the memories we share.
To more great times, I cheers to you! May we be ever grateful.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

8 Epic types of Travel Photos

So that you may have some fun of your own on your next vacation (or even when you are sitting on the couch, because why must travel be the only excuse for photos?) I am sharing some of my tips with you. Be warned: I am not a photographer. I don’t know what I am doing. But I am blissfully, consistently amused by my own life and the photographic record of it. That, and only that, is what gives me an air of legitimacy.

1. Group album cover.

2. Using Props.

3. Squeeze into tiny alcoves or niches.
4. Make out. (Note: this only works if you are on a trip with your significant other. Otherwise, it can make a family trip really awkward.)
5. Challenge the photographer to a duel.

6. Pretend your travel buddies are famous.
7. Take advantage of reflective surfaces.

8. Take a series of similar pictures, and compile them into a gif.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back in October this article was published : 9 Travel Apps Every Traveler Should Use

1. Travel App Box: It is made up of a collection of 15 tools which includes a tip calculator, country calling codes, offline maps, flight status and more.
2. Tripit: The app organizes all of your travel details in one place. I love it! Use it all the time now.
3. Around Me: Lists your options while telling you how far it is along with directions to get there.
4. Weather Channel App: Self explanitory
5. Camera+: MAC only- This app enhances the zoom, timer and stabilizer of your photos among other functions on your iPhone or iPad.
6. Evernote: Take pictures of receipts and other paperwork as well as taking notes on the go.
7. Wikitude Location Guide: It draws in helpful information about your surroundings and displays annotations of nearby points of interest.
8. FlightAware: You can check on flight status, gate information and changes, delays and cancellations.
9. Google Translate: Save yourself the time of learning the language and spare yourself some embarrassment!

~ Greet

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Walking Tours

Something I always suggest to my fellow travelers is taking a walking tour around your destination. Either with a company or just following one outline by your travel guide. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with not only the city, but the direction of things. It's easy to know North, East, South, West; but it's another to know "Oh the subway always exits on this side of an intersection!"
Also, walking tours can help you weed out some of the less necessary attractions, especially if it's guided by a local! They can tell you what's over priced and what is a great hidden treasure. If you're lucky, they may even make suggestions for dining.
I'm a huge fan of Sandman's and they seem to be adding new cities every year. If there is one at your vacation destination, take it! You won't regret it.
If you think you're going to wing it on your own with your travel guide book, then I suggest looking to see if your city has a Spy Map, they are just as good as a local guide with finding hip cafes or good restaurants. I'll be using on in Budapest, but I've used them before in Barcelona, Prague, and Dublin.
In the end, no matter where you go, walking your destination can be very rewarding. So next time you see one of those red double decker buses, just think how much they miss out from up there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What kind of Traveler are you?

I'm thick into my plans for my Euro-trip next summer. The plan lies as Tuscany, Italy for around a week and then hop over to another destination for a week or so. At first I was thinking about Morocco, but I feel like a week is no where near enough time to begin my explorations of Africa. Then I was leaning towards Greece, but it seems a bit too romantic to rock alone. So then I was at a loss, where do I go if I go alone or with "Just Friends".
Thankfully I own just the book to help me with this! A few Christmases ago, I was gifted a fantastic book from a fellow traveler. Fly Solo by Teresa Rodriguez Williamson is an amazing book that outlines the 50 best places on earth for a girl to travel alone. The introduction provides readers with a quiz to help define the type of Traveler you are. Below I am going to post the quiz, but you'll have to buy the book to discover where your adventures should lie!
Long story not so short, I'm now considering Budapest as my 2nd destination!

1. When you think museum, you think...
  • The best way to aviod those long lines is to buy your tickets ahead of time. (5)
  • Great! If there's a huge storm and you can't do any of the things you wanted to do. (2)
  • You should. You really should. After the latte and before hitting the shops. (3)
  • Which way to the Cubists? (4)
  • Blah. Melatonin is cheaper if you're having trouble sleeping. (1)
2. Your idea of a night of entertainment is...
  • An opera followed by a symphony followed by a ballet. Oh, if only time would allow it! (5)
  • A play, which is good foreplay to dinner and dancing. (4)
  • Brad Pitt in... anything! (2)
  • A pub crawl. (3)
  • A curtain call. As in the ones in your hotel room. As in good night. (1)
3. In your guidebook, the history section is...
  • Dog-eared and worn to the bone with highlighting. (4)
  • In mint condition. (1)
  • A place you've perused. (3)
  • Committed to memory. (5)
  • Next on your list. (2)
4. At the crack of dawn you...
  • Have already been jogging. (5)
  • Are asleep and will be until 10:50a.m., giving you 10minutes before the hotel kitchen stops serving breakfast. (2)
  • Are groggy and puling on yoga pants. (4)
  • Were told to catch the area's famous sunrises, so here you are. Just this once. (3)
  • Are stumbling home. (1)
5. There's a health club in your hotel. You...
  • Love the sauna. (2)
  • Had no idea. (1)
  • Work it into your daily schedule, so you can squeeze into that new outfit you bought. (4)
  • Glare at the man on the stair climber. He's hogging it on your only gym day! (3)
  • Spend more time here than in your "other" room. (5)
6. You are packing your luggage for your big trip.You make sure to include...
  • A travel guide and your journal. (2)
  • A few pairs of sweats, your Nikes, and your heart rate monitor. (5)
  • Your camera, sunscreen, and a bathing suit. (3)
  • Your running shorts and a water bottle. (4)
  • Your Gucci heels, cutest cocktail dress, and a French translation book. (1)
7. London fog is legendary. You...
  • Barely have time for the British Museum after all that shopping and eel pie. (1)
  • Might agree to meet a friend there, but only if Barcelona were part of the bargain. (4)
  • Head to St. Tropez. (5)
  • Deal with it. After all, most of what's fun in London is indoors, including tweed-wearing Englishmen. (3)
  • Enjoy the vividness of what feels like a Sherlock Holmes mystery around every corner. (2)
8. Pina coladas and getting caught in the rain are...
  • What they are. After all, rain is great for your hair. (1)
  • Romantic. The soft fingers of rain caressing your window make poetry of the night. (2)
  • Irrelevant! A mere umbrella is all that stands between you and the world. (3)
  • Devastating. Before you unpack, you plan to file suit again the Weather Channel. (5)
  • Threatening. You brought mostly suede. (4)
9. It's high noon and it's hot! The sand sparkles, the water beckons, and...
  • You wished someone had engineered a way to air-condition the tropics. (5)
  • High school physics helps you angle two umbrellas against the sun over your deck chair. (4)
  • You SPF is 50 so you can romp in the waves without losing ten years off your face. (3)
  • So does Antoine, the lifeguard on duty with the chiseled pectorals and abs that don't quit! (1)
  • Your body glistens with baby oil. Against dark paneling, you's be totally camouflaged! (2)
10. Happy hour? What would make you devilishly happy is...
  • The Australian national rugby team, a magnum of champagne, and kissing and telling. (5)
  • To have a glass of wine in your hotel's bar with the locals you met while shopping. (4)
  • A sidewalk seat in a cafe overlooking the bustling square where you might connect with someone. (2)
  • If the oversized reading chair in the lobby by the fireplace were finally vacant. (1)
  • An evening epicurean tour where you'll share a meal with new friends. (3)
11. Want to share your table?
  • That's the whole idea: dinner (and hopefully breakfast!) for two... (4)
  • As if you have a choice with that mad bunch of Brazilians you just befriended! (5)
  • Yes, if you count the room service guy and the eight o'clock movie. (2)
  • No, thank you, you say confidently. I'll take the prix fixe menu and a carafe of your house red. (1)
  • Perhaps. If you meet some jet-settling cuties. (3)
12. If your best friend had to describe you, she would say...
  • Our friendship is one-on-one, she likes her space. (1)
  • Great friend, but she can get shy around strangers. (2)
  • We have so much fun going out and meeting up with our friends. (3)
  • I can't keep track of her, she's always socializing with others. (5)
  • If there were a contest for having the most friends, she would win. (4)

Alright now 1,2,3 are for Culture, 4,5,6 are your activity level, 7,8,9 total your reaction to weather, and the last 3 score your Socialization levels.
Now you have to buy the book!!!!

Thanks for the tip O' Mighty Travel Gods!

Being such a travel activist, I subscribe to several different periodicals. As a result I sometimes receive some fairly interesting inserts in my mailbox. The most recent was a bookmark sized flyer with the "Top 5 Secrets To Savvy Travel" on it. Most of the tips I already follow, but I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Time It Right. Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Traveling on off-peak days- and at off-peak times- means lower fares, a less crowded cabin, and a greater change of snagging those elusive mileage-award seats.  Taking two days off for a long weekend? Instead of traveling Thursday and Sunday or Friday and Monday, save money by flying Saturday and Tuesday.

2. Buy Airline Tickets Midday on Tuesdays. When I purchase a domestic ticket, I usually do it on a Tuesday between noon and 3p.m. Airlines tend to announce fare sales on Monday nights, and other airlines match those sales on Tuesday mornings, which means that by 3p.m. on the East Coast and by noon Pacific time, the greatest number of tickets has hit the system.

3. Stay Over Sunday. Many hotels get Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday through Friday traffic from Business Travelers, so there's a void on Sunday night- which increases your changes of an upgrade. See tip 1 for more savings ;)

4. Carry Credit Cards That Earn You Elite Status. Play your travel-rewards credit cards right and you'll receive special rates and perks. Carry one airline-branded card and one hotel-branded card that help you attain and maintain elite status- and make sure that at least one of those cards charges no foreign-purchase fee.

5. Book Through "Top Producers." The travel agent who sends the most travelers to a leading hotel or cruise line will be able to get you the most perks. These usually come in the form of resort credits, complimentary meals, and/or free upgrades. Ask an agent whether he is on any travel companies' advisory boards.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Money, Money, Money by the pound... or Euro or whatever!

Over the years I've noticed that something first-time travelers are always hesitant about it is how they'll pay for things abroad. Well today's blog is all about money and how to use/get it overseas. Here are some key points to be aware of:

Exchange Rates: A fairly simple concept that often seems overwhelming, especially if you are crossing through multiple currencies in one trip. Example: US Dollar to Euro to Pound. Always try to exchange in familiar terms, so USD to Pounds and UDS to Euros. It will be much easier to understand the value, and BONUS, it keeps you from exchanging too much cash at once.

ATMs: NOT A UNIVERSAL ACRONYM. I was so confused the first time I went to Germany and asked where I could get money. They kept saying ETC, which I knew to mean excetera...The great thing about ATMs is that they're fairly common and they're always in logical place: Outside banks, near coffee shops, in the airport or mall.

Something I've learned on my own is that my credit card actually has 2 fees for international purchases, an exchange fee and a processing fee, it usually tacks on an additional 6% of the transaction! That's ridiculous and I didn't know or ask until I had done a lot of traveling. Once I found out, I asked my credit union about their rates and turns out my debit card is much more affordable. Now all I use overseas is my debit card, it's so much easier.

So what can you take away from this? Don't be scared, it's just money! And money is something every body wants, so if you have it and are in a foreign country- don't worry! Secondly, know your fees. Call your credit card provider and have them spell it out for you, that way you know all about that fine print. Finally, make sure to let your bank/credit union or credit card provider know you'll be out of the country and making purchases. It is so difficult to deal with "Fraud" claims which being overseas!
Questions? Let me know

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vacation Rentals I HIGHLY recommend

So as I've mentioned previously, I stayed in this amazing vacation rental this past summer in the south of France. Well I found in on I'm a big fan of this site, but there are several like it and I'm sure they are equally reliable. Today I'm going to list a couple great deals I'm found in my research. The locations are going to be all over the world, so I hope you find one that will be perfect for that next big trip.

1. Mammoth Lake, California: $840 per week for up to 8 guests. That breaks down to just $15 a night!!!! Rental #957906, it's a beautiful 3bed, 2.5bath.

2. Beaucaire, France: A max of $980 per week for 8, so $17.50 per night. This rental is all about the balcony! The true bonus is that the little town has some amazing restaurants. If you like wine and mussels, you can't find a better place. Rental car is really required. Rental #309491

3. Killarney, Ireland: Max= $788, but a smaller rental only sleeping 5. That's a bit more expensive at nearly $23 per night. The bonus is that it's super charming. Rental #927397

4. Athens, Greece: $860 for 6 people, which is  $20.50. Bonus is that it's a mixture of City and Seaside, but you will want a rental car. The view is worth the drive. Rental #995499

5. Prague, Czech Republic: $700 for 4 people making it only $25 per night. The city of lights is a very affordable destination and the winters are pretty mild. I visited in January and only need a light coat and scarf! The city is full of history, and should be on any backpacker's list. Rental #63031

6. Monteverde, Costa Rica: $750 for up to 14 people!!! So $7.50 a night, AMAZING! You'll need a rental car, or I suggest a JEEP- the roads are bad. This is a great area, you have a ton of stuff to see: a volcano, a cloud forest, coffee plantations, ziplines... and it's only a 2 hour drive to the beach! Please check it out. Rental #170000

7. Sunshine Coast, Australia: $675 per week, but only sleeps 6 making it $16.50 per night. This is a condo, not a free-standing house like the others so far. I'm not as familiar with Australia's Public Transit, but according a friend who is local you do not need a car. It's just north of Brisbane, which is a fairly large city. Rental #404407629

Those are some of the great deals I've come across so far. There are just tons of them on the site, all it takes is a some research. Let me know if you need any advice on it!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tuscany 2013!

Hey friends,
Time to start planning my next big trip! I just received a wedding invitation in the mail for my friends who are getting married in Lari, Italy next summer. Congrats to Patty and Semio!!!! I'm so thrilled to be able to experience this joyous day with them.

Look forward to more posts about my steps of planning for this big trip. I'm hoping to keep it a short one, just a little over a week. I'll keep you posted!

~ Greet

Tools of the Wander

There are a few things a Vagabond should never be without. We've already discussed the importance of a travel guide, but there are a few other items that I never travel without.

1. Luggage- They’re big, they’re heavy, and even though they usually have wheels, they can still be a pain to cart everywhere. What’s worse, their size can fool you into thinking that any extra space after packing needs to be filled, prompting you to pack something else you don’t need. Condense your possessions into a backpack for a more flexible, less cumbersome trip. You’d be surprised how much they can hold, and provided you meet certain size requirements, backpacks can also help you avoid the headaches of checking your bags.
I, personally, never travel with more than I can pack into a carry-on luggage and I only purchase a specific form of suitcase. The dimensions are usually 29 in. H x 18 in. W x 10 in. D. Never black... ever. Finally, the wheels must be able to rotate a full 360.

2. Camera- Lots of sites recommend bringing professional-grade SLRs (usually whatever model is new the month the article is published). Unless you’re a professional photographer or photojournalist and you make your living using a camera, you really don’t need a big fancy piece of equipment weighing you down. Pocket digital camera are very affordable these days, are portable, and literally fit into nearly every pocket. Plus the newer ones take really fantastic pictures.

3. Neck Pillow- As a vagabond, you'll never know where you may be forced to sleep ;) Still, there are alternatives to relying on the official neck pillow. Even rolling the soft sweater you brought along can be a suitable substitute. Now, some people do swear by these, and so if you really feel like this item is nonnegotiable, I suggest an inflatable model that can be neatly folded and tucked away when not needed.

4. Journal- This may sound so cliche, but I've found that recording one's thoughts while traveling to be a great read later in life. You'll be surprised what will cross your thoughts while out experiencing the world. When I'm on the road, my thoughts and feelings still flow better with pen and paper. 

Add to this list a travel guide and you'll have the 5 key tools of a wander. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lodging for your place in life.

Now I have experienced the whole gauntlet of lodging options that are out there, from Couchsurfing and hostels to Hotels, small budget to Luxury, to Vacation rentals. I've enjoyed them all, but I've come to find that specific lodging often matches a  specific time in your life. This applies both financially and emotional maturity. Here's the path of progression:

16-25: During your travels in this age, it's all about the experience and the people you meet. I highly suggest Couchsurfing or hostels. There's nothing like see a destination through the eyes of locals and meeting fun fellow travelers. If you're traveling alone, this might seem overwhelming, but don't worry- Life's not a horror film produced by Quinton Tarontino.

26-35: Vacation Rentals are usually the best way to go. You may be starting a family, or traveling with friends during this time of your life. The best way to full relax is to have a home away from home, and that's what a vacation rental provides. You have some much flexibility when you have a kitchen or laundry at your disposal. Here's an article about vacation rental from  USA Today. I have recently stayed at a vacation rental in the south of France and it was one of the most amazing lodging experiences of my life. If you're headed to the south of France check out My Beaucaire.

36-55: Hotels are great for short trips and during the peak of your career and family life, that's really what you're going to have time for. Hotels range from budget to luxury and I say that it's up to you and your preferrence to what is appropiorate for your trip. If it's romantic, splurge. If you're going for some adventure-driven weekend, it probably is just the place your going to pass out each night. Take these things into your consideration.

55+: Around this time most of your trips are going to be with family and friends again, so I woul again suggest Vacation Rentals... but there is still a great opportunity for hotels.

 This is all at your discression, so don't consider this the "RULES" for all your travels. It's all about what you're wanting from you trip.

Keep wandering.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Report

While I do enjoy mindless roaming and wander, I hate to get lost. That's why a travel guide book is so important when exploring a new destination. Now, if you've ever walked down the travel section of you book store you know that there is a huge selection for you to choose from. It can be overwhelming, but it's much easier than you realism.
Choose a book like you.
It sounds weird, but I mean that. If you're a visual learner who likes detailed maps and photos, get that. If you enjoy learning all about a location, the history and people, then buy one with all of that. It all depends on what you're looking for and comfortable with.
Now I'm not here to push one brand over another, but just to let you all know my preferred travel guide is Lonely Planet. I first borrowed a friend's Lonely Planet Scotland and read it cover to cover on my way to Edinburgh. It was filled with history and tips. It suggested a walking tour of the city and now I take one in every city I visit! Your travel  guide can really change the tone of your adventure, so choose wisely.
I have slowly started to embrace technology and this summer I downloaded a travel guide onto my KindleFire... I didn't like it. It helped me discover that I'm a physical book sort of traveler. I like being able to just reach into my bag and look something up. Charging my guide every night was NOT fun.
So there you have it, the importance to Travel Books. If you're still not sure which brand is right for you, just head down to the store and browse. I do it all the time. It's a great way to get destination inspiration!

Visual Stimulation

So like most 20something females, I am addicted to Pinterest. Today I found a few images that really need to be shared here. I hope you find them inspirational!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cruise: It's popular for a reason!

Cruises have really made an impact in the last fifteen years or so, with all the major cruise lines adding new ships to their fleets. But what makes cruises so popular and why might you consider choosing one for a vacation? Well, let's take a look at what all they offer:
Worry-free multiple destination travel.
     Wouldn't it be wonderful to go to bed in one place and wake up somewhere new and exotic? Of course it would! Well that's what cruises offer. Long gone are the days of dad driving while everyone sleeps through the night. Dad, you need a vacation too!
No cooking, cleaning or even reservations. 
     The all-inclusive nature of cruising is very attractive in this economical climate. With all your main requirements (food, lodging, and the cruise itself) included in the ticket price, you won't have a heap of expenditures to worry about once you're on board.
A cruise for everyone.
    In the early days, cruises tended to be most popular with the retired and the wealthy, or as I refer to them: Gray-hair cruises. While many of those folks still enjoy cruising today, there really are no stereotypes about your average cruiser any more. There are cruises that are great for families with children, others that cater go couples, some with special events for singles or gay and lesbian passengers, some that are perfect for active adventurers, and some that are low-key and cater to those who just want to relax. While demographics vary from ship to ship, there really are cruises for any kind of person who's looking to see the world and have a good time. If you're not sure you want, try one of the mainstream lines. They are known for having a Vegas vibe, where there are entertainment options for just about everyone. If you prefer peace and relaxation to constant entertainment, choose a small ship or a luxury line.

So you're interested, but how do you get started? Well take some advice. It's highly unlikely that you don't know someone who has cruised before. Your friends are the best critics out there! However, if you are one of the unicorns our there, try Cruise Critic. They'll help you find the perfect cruise for you. 

International Gateways

So traveling aboard is expensive, right? Well, DUH! And that's not going to change any time soon, but you can dampen the cost by know some important tips. Tips like it's cheaper to fly into some airports than others. Today's blog is all about the importance of International Gateways.

Dublin- The capital and most populous city of Ireland.The English name for the city is derived from the Irish name Dubhlinn, meaning "black pool". Dublin is situated near the midpoint of Ireland's east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey and the center of the Dublin Region. It is also one of the most affordable airports in the EU. It's a great access point to the UK and Western Europe. There is this wonderful little gem of an airline called Aer Lingus who travels from major US cities to Dublin for a decent rate.
              Another great thing about DUB is that they also service the smaller, cheaper airlines that are great for traveling around Europe. Airlines like Ryan Air and Jet Blue, often use smaller, more remote airports to save on taxes and fees so you the traveler will save as well, but Dublin is one of the few LARGE hubs. This makes it very easy to fly in on an affordable roundtrip ticket and then hop to your final destination for a steal.

Barcelona- the capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain. I have NO IDEA why it is so affordable to fly here. It's a city filled with amazing art and architecture. Plus some beautiful beaches! Either way, it's the traveler's gain, so take advantage. Especially if you're looking to hop down to Morocco, which can easily be done.
                Now BCN is as large of a hub, but it does offer another alternative: Rail access. If you have always dreamed of roaming the trains of Europe, this is a great jumping point. From Barcelona it is just an overnight trail to amazing destinations like Paris or Roma.

Frankfurt am Main- I know what your thinking ("WHAT?! How?? and No way!"), but read me out! While it is only the 5th largest city in Germany, Frankfurt is the economical mecca of this strong EU nation. With all this financial business going on, it makes sense that flights are easier to find and may cost a little less. The airport connects directly to the rail system and the city is a great launching area for the romantic countryside.

San José- The capital of Costa Rica is a great link into the Central American jungles. Travel through central and south America can be spotty at best, but by flying over some of the more hostile areas you can easily link up with a more reliable bus system. Flights here can very throughout the year, but most affordable is during rainy season. Don't let a few sprinkles dampen your thirst for adventure!
As far as Asia goes, it gets a little more tricky. The single largest market for Asia-USA service is to/from/via Tokyo/Narita, followed by Hong Kong. Depending on time and cost, you can also price out travel to  Canada. Air Canada has an extensive network of Asia-Canada service including numerous Toronto non-stops aside from their Asia gateway city of Vancouver. Taipei also offer some attractive carriers who are generally seen as budget friendly: China Airlines and EVA Airlines.
Please add comments if you have related tips of your own!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Welcome to all who wander!

Welcome fellow travelers. I greet you warmly and thank you for reading. This blog is something I've been wanting to undertake for a while. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a  recent graduate in the field of Hotel & Restaurant Management who is breaking into the tourism industry. But what really gives me the experience to write a blog about traveling is that at the age of 25, I've been to 49 of the states and 22 foreign countries.
The best part of all these trips has been that I rarely travel with an itinerary. The best experiences happen when you allow yourself to be free to roam! And anyone can afford to travel. I have traveled around the world and each trip has cost less than $2500.00.
So what you can expect from this blog? Advice about travel locations, tips on how to wander with a purpose, and what's new in the realm of tourism. I'll also be updating travelers on some great deals going on at specific times of the year.
I hope you all enjoy this blog as much as I will!